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Originally published September 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM | Page modified September 14, 2012 at 6:39 PM

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Sonics fans celebrate with Chris Hansen over free beers

During his 35 years as owner, F.X. McRory's owner Mick McHugh said he's never had anyone buy a round of drinks for everyone in the bar.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A big gigantic THANK YOU Mr. Hansen!!!! I wish I could of been there tonight to toast... MORE
You da man, Chris! MORE
THANK YOU MR. HANSON!!!!!!!!! MORE

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Standing behind the bar at F.X. McRory's, Chris Hansen raised a plastic cup of beer and saluted a festive crowd Thursday.

Hours after a Seattle City Council committee approved a revised agreement with Hansen on a new $490 million basketball and hockey arena in the Sodo District, he hosted a victory party that drew roughly 1,500 to the Pioneer Square restaurant.

"I probably wouldn't be here today if we weren't as successful as we were in getting all of you guys rallied behind us," he said. "So thank you. And that's what this beer is for."

Hansen bought the first round of beer — Redhook or Bud Light. However, he expects Sonics fans to pay the next time.

"The real celebration will come when we have a team," he said. "The celebration will come when there's an NBA player that steps off the plane in this city.

"That will be the day when you all can buy me a beer."

With Mayor Mike McGinn at his side, Hansen lingered for hours posing for pictures, signing autographs and talking with fans dressed in Sonics green and gold.

For many, it was a chance to say thank you.

"I've had people buy me a drink, but none of them taste as sweet as this one," said Kris Brannon, the 38-year-old Tacoma resident known as Sonics Guy. "I've been to over 1,000 events and so many games I can't remember and this ranks right up there with the best feeling I've ever had.

"I never lost hope. So many people might have lost hope, but I never lost hope. We're almost there."

During his 35 years as owner, F.X. McRory's owner Mick McHugh said he's never had anyone buy a round of drinks for everyone in the bar.

"The best I can give you is one day the Seahawks lost to New England a long time ago and some guy from Boston showed up and he bought a round of a half-dozen oysters for everybody in the bar," McHugh said. "We were shucking oysters for about three hours.

"But this is different. This is just fabulous because it's a celebration."

The Sonics celebrated their 1979 NBA championship at F.X. McRory's and a few fans believe it won't be very long until an NBA team returns to Seattle.

"The NBA should not have left in the first place," said Sonics icon Slick Watts. "When I walk around this room, I get the sense that people here are ready to have it back.

"We've forgotten about all the bad blood with Clay Bennett and David Stern and we've moved on. We have Chris to thank for that."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @percyallen.


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